by Ken Schneck, Editor
Louis Escobar, the first LGBTQ+ and first Latinx individual to be elected to Toledo City Council, died on August 29 at age 70.
Escobar shattered barriers when he ran for City Council in 1997 in a city that never before featured an openly LGBTQ+ or Latinx councilperson. Though he was initially considered to be a long-shot, his authenticity and passion for public service propelled him to a successful election. He served two four-year terms, which included three years as President.
“A lot of people told me, ‘Don’t feel bad if you’re not elected to City Council your first time around, because that happens a lot,’ but I was elected the first time around,” Escobar said in an interview with The Toledo Blade in 2006. “I think it says a lot for the city to elect a gay man and a Latino to City Council. [Toledo Mayor] Jack Ford said then it was historic, and I have to admit I didn’t really understand it at the time.”
His unwavering dedication to building consensus and lifting up voices in his community included decades of work with organizations like EqualityToledo, the AIDS Resource Center, the Fair Housing Center, Toledo Sister Cities, Toledo/Lucas County Homelessness Board, the Latino Arts Council, the Latino/Hispanic Alliance of Greater Toledo, Stonewall Democrats and St. Paul’s Community Center.
Tributes from allies, constituents, and a grateful city poured in on social media.
Escobar succumbed to congestive heart failure, according to his partner of 32 years, Kelly Altenberger.
- Consider running for office. Victory Institute is committed to supporting LGBTQ+ candidates and can help you get started.
Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He is the author of Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew (2017), LGBTQ Cleveland (2018), LGBTQ Columbus (2019), and LGBTQ Cincinnati (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.